Your Sexual Rights and Accessing Healthcare

heart with a medical cross inside it floating above a cupped hand

You have a right to safe and accessible sexual and reproductive health services, free from discrimination and harm, that support your overall health.

And yet, access to sexual and reproductive health services can be unequal because of things like where you live, your immigration status, age, and many other factors. For example, not every town or neighbourhood has a sexual health clinic or a clinic that offers accessible and sex-positive care. 

Even when all goes well, going to a health care provider can still leave you feeling vulnerable, unsure, or full of questions. This section offers you information to support you in accessing sexual healthcare. Starting with your rights, this section also includes: 

  • Tips to help you feel more confident accessing sexual healthcare and how to make the most out of your appointment,
  • How to find reliable sexual health information online; and
  • Information to better understand privacy and confidentiality.

Your Rights When Accessing Sexual Healthcare Services 

Regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other factors, every individual accessing sexual healthcare in Canada has a right to:

Non-Discrimination And Respect

  • Accessing services in a safe environment that affirms who you are, your experiences, and what you chose to do with your body; this includes no racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, fatphobia, ableism, ageism, or slut-shaming.
  • Seeing a culturally competent provider who is knowledgeable about your specific needs; this includes having your chosen name and pronouns respected, and being spoken to directly if an interpreter is present.
  • Being treated with respect, dignity, non-judgment, and kindness.
  • Being heard, taken seriously, and able to ask as many questions as you want.
  • Being asked before being touched and having your “no” respected.

Privacy, Confidentiality, And Access To Information

  • Confidentiality when it comes to your information and anything you share (and being told about limits to confidentiality when they exist).*
  • Knowing what is being recorded on your chart and who will be able to see that information. 
  • Knowing exactly what will happen during an appointment and why.
  • Knowing who is treating you and who is part of your circle of care.
  • Being served in a language you understand (including using plain language or ASL).

*There are a few instances when providers have a legal obligation to report what you have shared with them. See more here.

Choose And Refuse

  • Choosing how the clinic will communicate with you after your appointment.
  • Bringing a support person or friend into your appointment.
  • Asking for a new health care provider without explanation.
  • Receiving timely referrals if your current provider canʼt offer a service.
  • Choosing the course of action best for you; this includes refusing any care or service.*
  • Sharing as much or as little information as you wish.
  • Refusing to have a student or observer present.

*There are a few exceptions to this, including if you are under the age of consent for medical treatment (or refusal) where you live. See more here.

Reporting And Accountability

  • Reporting a provider that does not uphold these rights.
  • Accessing a clear and fair complaint and reporting process.*

*Each clinic has different complaint and reporting procedures. Each type of health care provider has their own professional college. See more under Advocating For Yourself


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